If you are thinking of divorce and wanting primary custody of your child, here is how you can build a robust child custody case:
- Provide evidence that you are an ideal parent who can take care of the child’s best interests
- Prove that the other parent is not an ideal parent
- Prove that you have a deep and meaningful relationship with your child
- Demonstrate that you have created a workable parenting plan
First off, to build a strong custody case, you need to hire an experienced, successful, and effective child custody attorney who has resolved many custody battles to the satisfaction of clients – before the cases went to trial. Of course, high-conflict cases invariably end up in the courts and there is nothing one can do about that. But when it comes to regular child custody cases, your attorney should demonstrate how he has amicably resolved cases similar to yours in the pre-trial stage.
Hiring the right family law attorney is 99% of the battle won.
That said, if you are thinking about divorce and want primary custody of your child, here is how you can build a robust child custody case:
1. Provide Evidence That You Are An Ideal Parent Who Can Take Care Of The Child’s Best Interests
You can prove to the courts that you are an ideal parent who acts in the best interests of the child by establishing that:
- You can provide your child with a safe, stable, and secure home after the divorce – a home in which your child will get adequate space and his/her needs and comforts will be taken care of. “Needs and comforts” include clothing, food, shelter, medical insurance, regular medical checkups, hobbies, and more, depending upon the standard of living that the child enjoyed when his parents were married.
- Your monthly income is sufficient to operate the home and take care of the child.
- You can always be present, engage yourself actively, and be attentive anytime when the child needs you. To convince the courts that you will be a responsible parent, you can keep records of instances when the child needed you and how you were always there for him/her.
- You are fair to the other parent.
- You are fit (physically and mentally) to take care of the child.
- You have not neglected the child during the marriage and will not neglect him in the post-divorce period.
- You have witnesses who can testify that you have been an ideal parent.
2. Prove That The Other Parent Is Not An Ideal Parent
The courts believe that a child needs the love and care of both parents to become a responsible and productive adult. So, if the other parent is a regular person with regular flaws that all humans have, then you have to be fair to his/her custodial rights and don’t have to point out flaws in his/her parenting skills.
Unless, of course, the other parent’s parenting style is such that it can harm the child physically or emotionally. If the other parent is unfit to take care of the child, you can provide evidence of his/her:
- Substance abuse
- Criminal activity or association with criminals or dangerous people
- Domestic violence (emotional/physical) against you or the child
- Irresponsible or reckless behavior that endangered the child
- Violation of court orders
- (And any other activity that placed the child in imminent danger)
3. Prove That You Have A Deep And Meaningful Relationship With Your Child
- Demonstrate how you have supported your child’s education and extracurricular activities.
- Show how you have fulfilled your parenting duties. (You can prove this and the first point by providing the courts with a journal that details how you have devoted time to the child)
- Cooperate with the guardian ad litem (if the court appoints one) or evaluator and provide evidence to him/her about the time you have spent on the child’s upbringing and how it has favorably impacted the child’s life.
- Show how you have contributed financially to the child’s upbringing (if you are employed or own a business).
- Produce witnesses (neighbors, teachers, etc.) who will testify that you are a good parent.
4. Demonstrate That You Have Created A Workable Parenting Plan
Create a solid and practical parenting plan and show the courts how you place the child’s best interests over your own, and how you are ensuring that the pain of divorce does not rub off on the child. Ensure that your parenting plan:
- Has a joint custody or visitation schedule that is easy on the child and fair to the other parent
- Details how the parents will communicate with each other so that the shared parenting routine becomes easy to execute
- Details how the parents will make major decisions about the child
- Details how the child’s finances (child support sharing) are planned in such a way that the child’s needs and comforts are always provided for
- Shows how the child’s best interests will be taken care of